Morning CheckUp: July 5, 2011

Welcome to Morning CheckUp, ThinkProgress Health’s 7:00 AM round-up of the latest in health policy and politics. Here is what we’re reading, what are you?

Health cuts in the deficit ceiling negotiations: “Negotiators said they were seriously considering cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals for uncollectible patient debt and the training of doctors; steps to eliminate Medicare “overpayments” to nursing homes; a reduction in the federal share of some Medicaid spending; and new restrictions on states’ ability to finance Medicaid by imposing taxes on hospitals and other health care providers.” [NYT]

Health industries fear they’ll bear the brunt: The groups that supported the reform law “are keeping a nervous eye on what health care savings might become part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling” since the easiest way to avoid cutting benefits “is to wring savings out of the different industry groups.” [Politico]

Docs are pushing for an SGR fix: “Physicians and the White House want a multiple-year fix to their payment system included in the debt limit package, but Republicans want to hold onto the doc fix to club Democrats with in the fall, physician lobbyists say. Republicans want to combine a temporary fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula with other measures, such as a repeal of the individual mandate, that would pay for the SGR overhaul, the lobbyists say.” [Inside Health Policy]


HHS approves Arizona’s Medicaid enrollment freeze: “Federal officials cleared the way Friday for Arizona to bar thousands of low-income residents from seeking Medicaid coverage in the next year as the state tries to close a budget shortfall projected at roughly $1 billion.” [Modern Healthcare]

Lower premiums in the high-risk pools: “Starting July 1, the Obama administration reduced the premiums by up to 40 percent in special high-risk insurance plans that the federal government is running in 17 states and the District of Columbia.” [Kaiser Health News]

Utah Medicaid waiver would increase coypays: “In an effort to stem the growth of Medicaid, Utah officials have submitted a waiver request to the federal government that will allow them to increase copays for recipients and change the way providers are reimbursed.” [AP]

Peter Orszag’s problem with health reform: “…the new law has many shortcomings — including its failure to seriously reform the medical malpractice system,” he writes, later adding, “The biggest substantive shortcoming of the legislation involved tort reform…By failing to move forcefully in this direction, the health reform act missed a major opportunity.”[Kate Pickert]